SOTA Tip no. 1 – How to Make the Most of Contact Lessons

SOTA tips - How to Make the Most of Contact Lessons

Depending on your school, ‘contact lessons’ may be called ‘air time’, ‘lesson time’, ‘telephone lessons’, or simply ‘lessons’. They’re that time of the week or day when you get on the phone or internet (or, in the olden days, when our parents did SOTA and dinosaurs roamed the earth, two-way radio) with your teacher and classmates and find out what you’re learning about.

So, here are our best tips for getting the most out of your contact lesson time.

#1 – Turn up to the lesson.

This seems pretty obvious, and no more needs to be said, really. Basically, remember when your lessons are scheduled for, and make sure to attend them. Even if you’re coughing up a lung and at death’s door, you can still attend the lesson from your sickbed.

It’s a bad idea to schedule ferry or plane trips during lesson time. However, bear in mind that most airports do have free wi-fi these days. Being in an airport in a different time zone is not a good excuse for not attending a lesson.

#2 – Turn up to the lesson early.

This is a good idea because it gives you time to check that all your technology (Moddle, Centra, WebEx, telephone, etc) is working, and gives you a little leeway should something not be working. You should try to have all the appropriate applications (Centra or WebEx, Moodle, and a word document, usually, as well as a textbook or set work) open before the lesson begins.

However, it is possible to turn up to lessons too early. If your lesson is at 11:55, it’s not necessary to log into Centra at 5am. Even if your class if having a competition to see who can get to lesson earliest.

#3 – Make sure your phone and computer are charged.

You don’t want to drop out of the lesson for something as silly as having a low battery. In fact, it’s best if your computer is plugged in for the lesson.

It’s best to have a wireless telephone (with a loudspeaker function), but even so, make sure any wires (particularly the one connecting the phone to the wall) aren’t somewhere where someone’s going to trip over them and pull them out.

#4 – Don’t be afraid to speak up.

If you have a bad connection, find some way to let the teacher know. Maybe they’re too quiet to hear, maybe they’re fuzzy, maybe everyone’s fuzzy. Sometimes you can’t hear them, but they can hear you. Maybe you can hear another student, but not the teacher. Whatever the problem, let the teacher know about it. If that’s not possible, let another student know so they can tell the teacher.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Your teacher can’t see the confusion on your face; you’ve got to tell her when you don’t understand something.

#5 – Remove distractions.

Let your siblings know that you’re in lesson, and tell them not to come up to you to ask questions or have a conversation. Make sure that someone’s not going to be in the kitchen next door, clattering pots and pans around, and don’t be in a room where someone’s going to come in and turn the television on. Not only is background noise bad for your own concentration, but it’s also really annoying to everyone else in the class.

It’s best to be in a room with a closed door. Don’t wander around the house and make yourself a cup of tea whilst in lesson.

#6 – Be comfortable.

But not too comfortable. There are few things more annoying to other students than hearing loud snores coming over the line. Don’t attend your lesson from your bed (unless you’re really, really sick).

#7 – Take notes.

In a notebook, in a word document, wherever is easiest for you. Don’t take notes on loose bits of paper unless you put them in a folder right away; likewise, make sure to save the word document.

You don’t have to transcribe the lesson word-f0r-word, just take notes about relevant information. For example, in English, write down the title of the book you’re going to start studying. Also make sure to write down the homework you’ve been given.

#8 – Be prepared.

Be mostly prepared for the lesson at least three working hours before it starts. If you have a lesson at 8:45 or 9:40, make sure to send in your homework the afternoon before, at the very latest. Your teacher isn’t going to get your homework or message if you sent it just before you log in to Centra. You need to give it time to get through to her inbox, and then for her to find it and see it. Homework isn’t in on time if it’s sent in just before the lesson.

I think this is everything we covered, but if you’re a SOTA/correspondence/distance student and have any more ideas, let me know.

Also, thanks to the ABC and Joey Hunt’s brother for the picture at the top. Sorry, I can’t remember your name, but your older brother was in my year 9 and 10 classes.


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